The Toronto tech community joins the global Solid movement led by Tim Berners-Lee


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May 13, 2019, Toronto - Nothing, neither cold weather nor the rain, would stop Toronto’s tech community from engaging with the future. The first Solid meetup in Toronto attracted over 70 attendees who were developers, data scientists, business professionals and investors. They were at the meetup to discuss the future of the internet.

Photo credit: LL BrandLab

30 years ago, Tim Berners-Lee invented the World Wide Web. Today, he is building the next generation web for open, linked data that could do for numbers what the Web did for words, pictures, video: unlock our data and reframe the way we use it together. This technology is Solid (Social Linked Data), which was initially a research project at MIT lead by TBL and was officially introduced to the world in October 2018.

The panelists gave an introduction of the target and architecture of Solid project, its relationship with semantic web and linked data. Followed by the differences between Solid and blockchain, as well as potential business opportunities for Solid developers. One of the panelists, Kris Chen, also demonstrated a Solid app, DeChat.

Attendees had a highly engaging discussion about the future, use case, advantages and limitations of Solid technology. Here are some highlights:

How does Solid ensure authentication and cybersecurity?
WebID-TLS, WebID-OIDC, and WAC were explained. Data security in-transit and at-rest are common concerns that need to be addressed, regardless of using Solid ecosystem or not. Solid provides protocol level of means to communicate between software and PODs. However, the actual implementation of Oauth and data security calls for collective efforts by the community.

In the Solid ecosystem, what might be an economically valid business model for users (i.e. data owners), POD providers and service providers?
The business model is an open topic. Basically, user data has the value that existing giants willing to provide free services to chase. Solid is capable to allow the data owners to decide sharing such value to who and exchange for what.

Provided that data is decentralized in Solid ecosystem, should developers be concerned about performance or data availability when designing Solid applications? How does Solid compare to distributed DB technologies in these aspects?
Viewpoint 1: In the Solid ecosystem, data itself is not segregated. Data is stored in a decentralized fashion with controlled accessibility by the user, i.e. the owners of data. Service providers can maintain user data with existing tactics for best performance. The difference is that service providers will have to implement direct and standardized data access and portability to users and other authorized applications, just like running a virtual POD host.

Viewpoint 2: In many scenarios (blogs, non-instant social media, etc.), the service quality is sufficient if the providers only update particular user’s data in local DB upon the last synchronization with his/her independent PODs. We can expect the expansion of such genres of service with the infrastructure performance improvement in the future.

What if the service providers with similar web services failed to make agreements on OWL in order to defend their own interest (or any other reasons)?
As long as the services provide an authorized interface to users’ data, there are always technical solutions to convert Ontologies.

What might be the business opportunities for Solid enterprise applications?
For legacy reasons, many big companies such as financial institutions, telecom and retail companies have duplicated ID systems between within one organization. This is extremely costly for these organizations in terms of development, maintenance, upgrades, data management, documentation and migrations.

The W3C specs and Solid with MIT license can provide a good starting point to solve this pain point. A semantic-based structure is also promising in the environment of deeper automation and artificial intelligence.

What roles will regulations, such as GDPR, play in advancing Solid eco-system or the decentralization of user data in general?
The way global regulations are moving is definitely in favor of Solid. Solid is built upon a series of W3C specs. It provides the applicability for data portability, which is one of the most important aspects of data protection regulations.

We greatly appreciate the support offered by our panel:

Max Weinberg
Senior Business Analyst at Bank of Montreal

Liqing Pan
Senior Consultant & Lead Mobile Developer at CGI, Founder of Norchain

Kris Chen
Application Consultant at Scotiabank, Directing Manager of Kollection

Organizers of the event:

LL BrandLab
Experts in branding and marketing for tech firms and beyond.

BitCoin Bay
The Leading developer community for blockchain enthusiasts.

Stay connected with the Solid Toronto community!
More meetups are on the way…
Our official chat group is on Gitter: https://gitter.im/SolidToronto/community
Twitter: @TorontoSolid
Email: solidtoronto@llbrandlab.com

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